Public Policy Update
President Clinton's proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2001 covers federal programs of great importance to psychologists, including those supporting research, education and training, and mental health services. The President has proposed a budget increase of $675 million, or 17.3 percent, for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a $1 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in what appears to be the most research-friendly budget ever produced by the Clinton administration. Here are the highlights:
NSF: The proposed NSF budget increase is split between new money for special research initiatives and new money for the core disciplinary programs. The goal is to increase the size and duration of NSF grants and to increase support of transdirectorate initiatives. The budget of the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate would rise from $146.14 million to $175.14 million--a 19.8 percent increase.
NIH: The budget requests $18.8 billion for NIH, an increase of $1 billion, or 5.6 percent over FY 2000. One important trans-NIH research priority is reducing and eliminating health disparities. Each NIH institute, center and programmatic unit will participate in developing a trans-NIH strategic plan for research on health disparities. The budget calls for establishing the current Office for Research on Minority Health as the Coordinating Center within the Office of the Director. NIH will also seek legislative authority for the Coordinating Center to award grants for minority health research under exceptional circumstances.
Elementary and secondary education: The President's budget request contains an increase of $4.5 billion (or 12.6 percent over FY 2000) for elementary and secondary education funding. This would be the largest jump in discretionary spending in the history of the U.S. Department of Education. Proposed initiatives include a program of bonuses to states that improve student achievement and initiatives to reduce class size and to recruit and reward teachers.
Higher education: Clinton also proposes increases for student aid funding, but no increases for some programs important to psychology graduate students, such as the Javits program and Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need. The administration has, however, requested $8.5 million for the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program, which is now open to psychology graduate students through a consortia of schools.
Health professions training: Unfortunately, the administration's budget request for $218 million for all of the health professions (excluding Graduate Medical Education) is an $84 million reduction from last year's budget. APA, as a member of the Health Professions and Nursing Education Coalition, which is rallying support for an increase in funding for such psychology-eligible programs as the Centers of Excellence, Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students and the Health Careers Opportunity Program. Also, the President regrettably continued a six-year trend of requests to level-fund the National Health Service Corps at approximately $117 million. This program provides scholarships and loan repayments to health professionals, including psychologists, in exchange for service in designated underserved areas.
Children and elderly: Building on the recently released Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health, the President's budget proposes a new Mental Health Initiative within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This includes $87 million for children's mental health services in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA)--an increase of $4 million. To provide mental health services and education to older adults, the budget includes $3 million for grants to develop replicable, innovative service delivery models and $2 million for technical assistance and education.
Prevention of child abuse and youth violence: The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act is slated for level funding of $21 million in discretionary grants, $18 million in state grants and $33 million in Community-Based Family Resource and Support Grants. To address youth violence, the President requested $8.9 billion for government-wide programs, including $289 million for Department of Justice programs, such as local community prevention programs. The budget also proposes funding for the new Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative administered by SAMHSA.
Health promotion for minority populations: Under the President's budget, the DHHS Office of Minority Health would receive $39 million to improve disease prevention, health promotion and health service delivery for disadvantaged and minority individuals. Another $50 million is proposed to address HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and infrastructure development needs within racial and ethnic-minority communities. The budget request also includes $35 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expand demonstration projects to reduce health disparities in minority populations.
Work incentives for people with disabilities: The President requested $42 million for health-care coverage demonstration projects and $20 million for grants to develop a state infrastructure to support working individuals with disabilities. As authorized under the newly enacted Work Incentives Improvement Act, the demonstration grants would cost $250 million over five years and would improve access to health care by allowing workers with disabilities to buy into Medicaid and Medicare.
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are already conducting hearings on the FY 2001 budget. Congress will review the President's budget and develop funding proposals of its own over the coming year. Congress and the President have until Oct. 1 to pass and enact funding for the federal government. More information on how the President's budget would affect psychology may be found on the APA Web page at www.apa.org/ppo.